Batting order news from around the globe! From Cleveland!
Sizemore is pushing, pressing and trying to do anything to bust out of an extended slump that has kept his batting average below .240 for most of May. So Wedge did something a little unusual on Monday, penciling Sizemore's name in the two-hole as the Indians' designated hitter . . . "We just feel like he's really been pushing and pressing, and trying to do too much," Wedge said. "Just to have somebody hit in front of him first, and let him see a few pitches. There's always a lot more emphasis on that one- and four-hole. I think putting him in that two-hole might help him back off a little bit, and get himself going."
Apparently, all the Braves needed was a good shuffling.
Manager Bobby Cox shook up the Braves lineup Tuesday, looking to drum up some offense after the Braves scored one run total in back-to-back losses. They responded with 13 hits in an 8-1 win over the Rockies. Kelly Johnson, who was struggling and was dropped from leadoff to sixth, went 3-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base. Casey Kotchman, moved up to the No. 2 hole, went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Batting order doesn't matter, or, more precisely, that it doesn't matter all that much. Research has shown that even the stupidest move, like hitting the pitcher cleanup, only costs a team about 16 runs over a season on average.
Because we care, BtB would like to remind everyone that lineups are pretty overrated. Believe it or not, the difference between an optimized lineup and a typical, mildly foolish one you'll see MLB teams use is only about one win over 162 games. It's obviously worth getting right, but not any more than realizing Troy Percival shouldn't be your closer or Joba Chamberlain belongs in the rotation.
Look, I'm sure juggling the order around made Bobby Cox and Eric Wedge feel better, but ultimately it's not the sort of thing that makes a real difference. Kelly Johnson got some hits because he's a pretty good hitter who was due. Though the shuffling didn't work for Cleveland, Grady Sizemore is probably going to turn it around because he's a pretty good hitter who is likewise due. Neither of those moves is going to change the fact that the Braves have a vortex of unadulterated suck playing right field and that every member of the Indians' bullpen should be indicted for arson.
Look a couple of posts below this one and remind yourselves that managers usually do best when they're not messing around too much. Fill out your lineup card. Try not to change too much, and realize that, on the whole, good players are going to produce and bad players aren't, and that success is ultimately dictated by how many good players you have hanging around.